Recently we reported on the drop in car thefts thanks to the new policing plan, which has targeted chop shops. These are places where stolen vehicles are taken (often stolen to order) and dismantled, with the parts then either being sold off or used to repair other stolen vehicles to be sold on. Criminals looking for a getaway vehicle might patronise one of these businesses to obtain a virtually untraceable vehicle that doesn’t match any genuine description, making it harder to track.
Watch thefts have risen nationally, but the West Midlands were on the higher end of the list with 376 timepiece thefts annually, more than one a day. Watches are much easier to sell on than stolen vehicles because there’s no nationwide register of watches, (Watchfinder & Co. are on the case creating one), and all but the rarest watches won’t trigger suspicion when pawned or sold.
The other main item that is in demand by thieves across the West Midlands is metal: Scrap metal values tend to stay consistent, with demand also steady, especially for easily recyclable or valuable metal like copper. In the period from March 2022 to March 2023, there were 2,922 thefts of metal, up from 2,663 in the same period the year before. In the period March 2020 to 2021, just 840 metal thefts were reported. Of course, lockdowns and the effective cessation of building projects will have had a significant impact on this type of crime but the increase is staggering.
The majority of these were infrastructure related, meaning criminals had targeted buildings and building sites, removing lead from roofs, stealing electricity cabling either from derelict buildings or from storage, or taking vehicle parts. Catalytic converters are often targeted for the small amounts of precious metal they contain.
The remaining 1,322 were thefts of war memorial plaques or stealing scrap metal from one dealer to sell on to another. The theft of metal items like ladders or garden furniture also falls into this category. Antonia Grey of the British Metal Recycling Association says “over the years, the type of theft shifted from low-value, low-volume thefts to high-value, and high-volume thefts such as entire lead roofs”.
If your business premises has lead on the roof it is worth investing in extra security cameras and lighting to prevent your building being targeted. If your business deals in metal in any way, it is also advisable to ramp up security especially if you’re a scrap metal dealer who may be targeted by less scrupulous ones, or those associated with dodgy dealers.
Vehicle sales and servicing premises would also do well to tighten security especially of storage areas where parts are kept. Scrap metal bins ought to be securely locked and covered by CCTV to prevent these becoming an easy target for crooks.
It is also worth looking at ordering patterns and policies on holding stock, to see if there are ways to reduce the amount of time potentially valuable metal items are held on site, again making your premises less of a likely target.
When it comes to the nuts and bolts of security, we can provide the CCTV, the alarm systems, the monitoring servicing and the peace of mind you need to be able to lock up your business premises at night, and sleep soundly. Call us today to slash your metal theft risk.